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A Conversation With Fort Wayne's Horizon Arcs
By EA Poorman
Fort Wayne Reader
Horizon Arcs make music that will at once sound familiar and entirely new. They're rock and roll, for sure, but each member brings something unique to the table. Classic rock, country, indie, progressive, and even polka (okay, maybe not polka) are evident in both their live shows and what's on their debut album Anybody Listening. These are cats that learned from the masters and are now putting their own spin on some old magic.
I ran down bassist Aaron Steele and he gave me the scoop on the band, their music, and what makes 'em tick.
EA Poorman: How did you guys get together? What other bands have you guys played in locally?
Aaron Steele: The band is made up of Brody Eastep (Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar), Alex Fernandez (Lead Guitar), Aaron Steele (Bass) & Austin Snyder (Drums). Unlike most bands who started out as friends, we formed through the classifieds. Brody originally found Aaron through a musician social network called "BandMix." We brought Austin on board through a Craigslist ad, and then Alex joined from a "Guitarist Wanted" poster we had put up. Alex recently took over for our previous guitarist, Tim Tilbury who left the band in July to spend more time with his family. The band has been on the Fort Wayne scene since 2014. We started out as a 90s cover band called "After School Special" and changed the name to "Horizon Arcs" in 2016 when we started recording the album so that we could avoid trademark conflicts. The only one of us who has previously been in a band locally is Austin, who played drums for Les Nester.
EA Poorman: Who are some influences you're pulling from music-wise? There's a definite 90s alternative vibe on the new record.
Aaron Steele: Yes, 90s alternative has strong roots in our sound. Our biggest influences would be Foo Fighters, Weezer, Blink 182, Sublime, Bush... the list goes on. What's really fun though is that each one of us brings an eclectic range of influences to our individual parts. The album's overall sound is grounded in 90s alt rock / post grunge but you will find some 70s funk and 60s surf in Aaron's playing, some blues and jazz in Austin's beats, some classic rock and country in Brody's vocals and some rockabilly and swing in Tim's riffs. We're excited to where the next album takes us now that we have Alex on board as his roots lie in classic and progressive rock.
EA Poorman: Let's talk a little about the new album, Anybody Listening. Where did you record? How long was the writing process for the album? Are you happy with how it turned out?
Aaron Steele: We recorded Anybody Listening at Digitracks Recording Studios here in Fort Wayne. Dan Middleton, the owner of Digitracks, worked with us closely on the project and was amazing to work with. Most of the songs were written by our lead vocalist Brody, who came to us one day with a rough demo. We started working through the songs as a band and eventually morphed them into what you hear today. "Bad Radio" and "Would it Kill You?" were new songs we wrote as a collective. We are extremely happy with the how it turned out and have heard great feedback from everyone who's heard it. One of our songs, "Stare," actually got picked up by a Boston radio station. The album is available now on all digital services including iTunes, Google Music, Amazon Music, Spotify, Rhapsody, and more.
EA Poorman: What's the songwriting process like in the band? Do you write together, or is a song brought to the band by one guy and then you work on it from there?
Aaron Steele: Brody came to us with a rough demo for most of the songs. As a band we took one song at a time and worked through it, making changes or trying different tempos and sounds to achieve what ultimately became the final version. "Bad Radio" and "Would it Kill You?" were ones we wrote together. Sometimes one of us will be noodling around with a riff during practice and we just start exploring where that will go. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. If we find a groove with the song, we"ll make notes and start working through it. Brody is our lyricist and will typically take that groove and start putting pen to paper. He's pretty dynamic in his writing process, we may give him ideas or talk about how the song makes us "feel" and he usually turns up the next week with a working song. All in all Its a fairly organic process, we just try and get it to something we like and let it take shape from there.
EA Poorman: Have you been playing out to promote Anybody Listening? What's a typical Horizon Arcs show like? What's the most memorable Horizon Arcs show that you can recall?
Aaron Steele: We released the album in April of this year and did several local shows promoting the album as well as a release party hosted by Wooden Nickel. We took a short hiatus from live shows this summer and are about to start up again. We're in this weird transitional place right now as we move from a 90s cover band to an Alt Rock band. Right now our shows are a hybrid of the two. We still love playing the covers, but our focus is on performing and promoting our music. Our most memorable show is probably our first show at the Wet Spot in Decatur. It was really just us playing during the break of another band. We payed 4 songs and were extremely nervous in how we would be taken. It turned out great, the crowd loved us and that was where we kicked things off. We’ve always had a great reception at the Wet Spot and we debuted several of our originals there. They entire venue is always extremely supportive and the crowd stood up and cheered when we played the first songs, it felt great and was one of those moments that justified all the hard work we had put into the music.
EA Poorman: Any future gigs you can tell us about?
Aaron Steele: We have several shows in 2017 including a Halloween show we are hosting at Carl's Tavern in New Haven on Oct 20th... We've also got shows coming up at Nick's Martini & Wine Bar in November and Summit City Brewerks and O'Sullivans at the End of December.
EA Poorman: Can each of you give me an album that you couldn't live without and why?
Brody Estep: The Essential Alan Jackson. "The songs he has released over his career have been some of the most honest and well written songs in any genre all while touching and it's successes and disappointments. Not to mention his backing band, The Strayhorns, are some of the best instrumentalists today."
Alex Fernandez: Metropolis Part 2: Scenes from a Memory, by Dream Theater. "It's a prog metal masterpiece and one of the best concept albums ever created. It really sets the bar for composition and musicality on a rock or metal album too."
Aaron Steele: Fizzy Fuzzy Big and Buzzy by The Refreshments. "It's been on a regular rotation in my music player since 1995. It's just a great album to listen to. The songs are well written and catchy, it's fun."
Austin Snyder: OK Computer by Radiohead. "The complexity of their song structure is beyond what most artists are doing today. They often change between tempos and time signatures during songs and pull it off with ease. Every time I listen to them I hear something new."
EA Poorman : What's the rest of 2017 hold for Horizon Arcs? Working on a follow up record?
Aaron Steele: We're only playing local shows for the rest of 2017 but we're treating those as a warmup for us to hit the road in 2018. We are in the planning stage right now to do some regional shows including Indy, Anderson, Chicago, Toledo and a few others. We're also talking some other local bands about running the circuit together and expect to bring our music to a larger radius. We also plan on getting back to the writing process soon. We already have the beginnings of several songs that we hope to start working through in the next few months.
You can follow the band and stay up on everything we're doing next by liking our Facebook page and by joining our mailing list on our web site horizonarcs.com.
Get out and catch these guys. Good dudes and a good band. Hit 'em up on Facebook and their website for concert dates and band news.